Welcome Back To The Wasteland

Fallout has been a stunning series since its debut in 1997 and Fallout 4 is no exception. Set in the post-apocalyptic ruins of Boston, now named The Commonwealth, Fallout 4 takes the player on a tour of its savage wastelands and ingenious towns and cities. Playing through the game, the player will develop a character all their own, who had worked their way up the many social ladders of the Commonwealth, founded towns and had a place in the future of the wasteland.

From the start of the game, you are thrown into an enormous world of blood-thirsty scavengers and mutants to find your own way. Moving from one small farm village to another, you make your way across the wasteland, meeting various factions, characters and enemies, all for the sake of finding your lost son who was kidnapped at the start of the game. However, what could seem to be a daunting task to begin with is made more difficult by the setting of a post-apocalyptic Boston; every faction is vying for power without a thought of cooperation. War wages across the entire wasteland, with a larger threat always looming overhead: The Institute. They’re a mysterious organization that steals people overnight and replaces them with robotic doubles. Against all odds, you must find your son in this dystopian, yet oddly beautiful world.

Graphically, Fallout 4 is an impressive game. Playing on the PS4, I experienced Fallout 4 at its median capacity, which I still found to be above all expectations. Characters seem to be more alive than ever, armor and weapons look durable and worn, and animations are more lifelike than in many other RPGs that I’ve played. Compared to past Fallout games, Fallout 4 has changed its palette in an astounding way. As opposed to Fallout 3’s constant shade of green and New Vegas’ constant shade of orange-brown, Fallout 4’s scenery pops out with vibrancy and life. Colors stand out unlike they have in any other Fallout and light shafts and particles scatter around empty forests and bombed out metro stations. Fallout 4’s style has kept me in awe while looking over the remains of Boston, and has shown that developer Bethesda does have what it takes to make their games look stunning.

Not only does Fallout 4 look amazing, but it plays just as well. The gameplay in Fallout 4 is unlike anything else that Bethesda has ever made. The Fallout series has always had infamously mediocre shooting, something Bethesda was obviously aware of, as the shooting mechanics in Fallout 4 are tight and responsive. Recoil must be accounted for, and guns now feel like they have a weight to them. The addition of a grenade hotkey fixes the issue of game flow being broken every time the player wanted to use a grenade in previous Fallout games. Additionally, a melee hotkey has been added so that the player can pistol whip an enemy or hit them with the butt of their rifle.

VATS has also made a triumphant return in Fallout 4, working differently than it has before. VATS no longer freezes time in game, instead slowing everything down while the player is allowed to pick out their targets carefully. Critical hits are no longer random but can be used by the player consciously. Every hit landed in VATS charges a small critical bar, which once filled can be spent to hit an enemy critically.  Even on console, Fallout 4 controls exceptionally well, and can be mastered quickly.

Fallout 4 does have some issues on its performance side though. As expected in all Bethesda titles the game is plagued by bugs and glitches that can set a player back during their playthrough. So far, I haven’t experienced any game breaking bugs, but I’ve been cautiously aware. Alongside glitches and bugs, the game suffers from framerate issues. In some areas of the wasteland, I’ve noticed extreme framerate drops from the usual 30 to around 25, which gives the game a noticeable stutter. It is unknown if these issues on console will be patched any time soon, or if they can be fixed at all. Any buyers on console should be aware of these issues, and if possible, the game should be bought on PC.

Fallout 4 is a demanding game, on both your free time and attention. The constant flow of new quests and locations mean that there’s never nothing to do in game. Having played the game for over 24 hours now and being only halfway through the main storyline, I’m fairly certain that there’s still plenty for me to explore in the wasteland. I can only hope that it doesn’t get in the way of my finals. I give Fallout 4 a 9/10.